Category Archives: Sweets and Desserts

The French Macaroon Workshop – Coconut Macaroons

My interest in Macaroons is not only because of my sweet tooth; but my maternal connection to the Pearl City of India – Thoothukudi, which is famous for its cashew-nut macaroon biscuits. The macaroons of Thoothukudi and its relation to macaron and maringue have been discussed in dosaikal previously.  That post was based on a Bakery Visit and learning the process of making macaroons in bulk. Recently, I had this wonderful opportunity to learn the process of making French Macaroons, from a Sous Chef. The Hotel that offers wonderful coconut macaroons to its guests in their Dinner Buffet or Breakfasts/Brunches allowed us to peep into their baking counter. That turned out to be a great workshop on my favourite Macaroons.

What else do I know best, than sharing the episode with my friends through this channel… I chose to do it as a pictoral tour.. come along!
  

The ingredients – as written on the white board for easy reference

  • egg whites – 400 gms
  • breakfast sugar – 1 kg
  • coconut powder – 600 gms
  • icing sugar – 300 gms

  


  

in display


  

the machine


  

Making Macaroons

1. Beat egg whites


  

2. Add breakfast sugar – which is supposed to render a sticky texture to the mixture unlike normal granulated sugar. The chef mentioned, the stores sell ‘breakfast sugar‘ which is not the same as normal sugar.


  

3. When the mixture reaches soft peak consistency,


  

mix coconut powder and icing sugar


  

4. Gently fold the coconut powder-icing sugar into the beaten egg whites with hands


  

5. Remove the mixture into a bowl


  

6. Drop slowly into piping bags


 


  

7. Pipe into beautiful macaroons on a silicon baking sheet


 

 

  

8. Macaroons made by my little chef


 

  

9. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 15 to 20 minutes


  

10. Coconut Macaroons are ready. You could serve these as cream filled double macaroons too.


 

 
Those macaroons by my little one made my day…truly awesome.

Karuppu Kavuni Arisi Payasam/Black Kavuni Rice Payasam (Southeast Asian Black Rice)

 

  

When I  posted  traditional rice varieties of tamilnadu  back in January 2017, I knew very little about these exclusive varieties. Used extensively in Chettinadu households and being part of their ceremonies, these rice varieties are less popular or even unknown in other parts of Tamilnadu. Apart from these, there are countless rice varieties that the ancient Tamils cultivated across centuries, those were high in nutrient value and unpolished. There is an urgent need for the revival of these species of rice, while we are moving forward as a junk food community in India as a whole.

Now, moving on to black rice –   I was introduced to black, red and brown rice almost four years ago in Cambodia.  After almost 8 years of life style change to brown rice of southern India, finding longer grains of unpolished rice in southeast Asia was a blissful event in my life.

Cambodian brown rice then became our staple lunch rice and Cambodian red rice was used in simple sweets (cooked rice with palm sugar and coconut). The local rice vendors sitting with gunny bags with their home made-hand milled red or brown rice was another nostalgic scene for me… What we used to see in the local markets of Tamilnadu.

Everything takes its own time in life, and now the time has come for this beautiful travel of the black, red and brown rice in my dosais and sweets. It is an educative travel with loads of nutrition. Come along!

  

  

The deep black or the purple hue of the black rice is a marker of its high antioxidant properties. Similar to blackberries and blueberries, that appear deeper in colour because of their high content of anti-oxidants. The outermost layer of the grain (the bran and the hull), contains immense amounts of the antioxidant-anthocyanin. In fact the amount of anthocyanin contained in black rice is higher than any other grain, including brown rice, red rice, red quinoa, or other colored whole grain varieties. http://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/7-incredible-benefits-of-the-forbidden-rice-the-black-rice-1688420

  

When I took out the Karuppu Kavuni Arisi or the Black Kavuni Rice sent by friend ‘T’ (refer: dosaikal post), I found a container with glutinous black rice preserved from Cambodia, which looked almost the same. When I googled to learn more on the similarities of Karuppu kavuni and black rice of Southeast Asia, I knew they belonged to the same family.  The genetic ancestors of karuppu kavuni might be the chinese/southeast asian black rice, which migrated to the southern regions of India through the Maritime Trade Communities, thousands of years ago. That is why it is still among the traditional varieties used in Chettiar Community of Tamilnadu, who are among the elite overseas Tamil Traders even today. Or… Could the travel have been the other way round. Research needed. That’s for another post though.

In the below mentioned research article, the author mentions of Black, Red and White rice being mentioned Sangam Tamil Literature, which dates back to 3rd Century BCE to 3rd Century ACE. The root word of ‘Rice’ is also of Dravidian origin is a well known established fact.

  


  

The origin of black rice (karu nel; kalikalu nel; kar nel;  kayam pu nel;  irul samaththanna erungaru nel; maiirul nel; karunavarkaniyanna nel; mattrundu arikila manjur eyahtu nel; kallanvulamkandanna nel; )  white rice (thuvel arisi; thuppaianna velnagai nel; velli vilangu nel; manthur nagai mani nel; ullurai ueranna velmulai arisi;  paruthipoothanna pasum nel); Red rice (keliru kannan kudumsennel; kuruthivoonnna nel; ratha mani nel; rathinam pothithanna nel; murukkam poo nel; sivel nel)  have been abundantly mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature.
http://tamilpaddycivilization.blogspot.in/2012/01/evolution-of-rice-in-tamil-nadu-ancient.html

  

While I decided to try out dosai/dosa with Karuppu kavuni arisi , my sweet teeth conquered in tempting me to make a payasam, Tirunelveli style with jaggery and coconut milk. My newly acquired clay pot made the recipe more exclusively traditional.

I am just a learner here, but there are mothers and grannies of chettinadu households who have provided enough recipes on the different brown, red and black rice varieties in the world wide web. I thank them all for making my quest more interesting with their authentic recipes transferred from generations. My dishes are only an adaption of their original recipes, with twists here and there.

A  few blogs that I referred for knowing more about karuppu kavuni arisi are mentioned here-

http://www.annamsrecipes.com/2013/11/kavuni-arisi-chettinad.html

https://www.kannammacooks.com/kavuni-arisi-chettinad-kavuni-arisi/

http://swarnaprashana.org/the-miracle-rice-karuppu-kavuni-arisi-black-kavuni-rice/

Now, to the Payasam or the Sweet Pudding.
  

Karuppu Kavuni Arisi Payasam/Black Kavuni Rice Pudding
  

Ingredients

  • karuppu kavuni arisi/black rice – 1 cup
  • water – to cook rice – 4 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup grated to make syrup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • thengaipal/coconut milk (thick milk) – 200 ml
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tsp
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashewnut – 6 no.s chopped to medium sized pieces

 

Method of Preparation

Getting ready

a. Wash well and soak black rice overnight to be cooked soft; I soaked the rice for about 4 hours for a nutty crunchy texture.


  

b. Dissolve jaggery in hot water to dissolve and strain for impurities. Boil the strained jaggery for while into a pourable consistency syrup. One can pour the strained jaggery directly to cooked rice and cook for a while till the  pudding gets a bit thick, befoe adding coconut milk.  I have the syrup ready in fridge that makes it easier to mix in sweets.

  

Making Payasam

1. Use the soaked water and add more if needed to make it 4 cups to cook rice in pressure cooker. After the first whistle, simmer the stove and cook for 4 more whistles or approximately 20 minutes.


  

2. In a clay pot (any cooking pan), pour the clarified butter and fry cashewnuts till golden brown.


  

3. Not wasting any time, pour the cooked rice inside the pan. Otherwise the nuts would get burnt.

  
4. Add the jaggery syrup, cardamom powder and dry ginger powder, and bring to boil.


  

5. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to boil. Be cautious to keep the stove on medium flame.  Coconut milk with jaggery in high flame for more time might split the milk.


  

6. As soon as the payasam comes to a boil, switch off stove. Payasam is ready to relish.


  

Note:

  1. Alter quantity of jaggery and coconut milk as preference.
  2. One might use palm sugar too, but no white sugar here please.
  3. Do no think of replacing coconut milk with cow’s milk..No way.

 

The Appam Remake: Sivapparisi Karuppatti Paniyaram/Banana Fritters with Red Rice and Palm Jaggery

  


  

The versatile deep fried Appam was posted a year ago with wheat flour and banana. The flexibility of this snack is its adaptability to a number of grains or milled powders of those grains- raw rice, rice powder, wheat flour, refined flour, millet powders and so on.. Here I have tried red rice powder in combination with wheat flour. The Appam batter here is not deep fried but gets a healthy makeover as Paniyaram – which is made with less oil in the Paniyara chatti.
  


  

Now, when does the true urge to make appam set in? Any guesses??

You buy bananas;
consume a few;
give away a few;
forget the following day about the bananas;
third day- the bananas have become extra ripe;
changed colour;
become softer inside;
the urge to make Appam arises!

Well ripe banana is synonymous to Appam in our household. Sometimes, we deliberately leave aside a banana or two to be transformed into Appam. I think the tempting factor is the addition of cane jaggery or palm sugar to bananas, that makes it a super special delicacy, yet it is a hard core simple recipe to handle.

Well ripe Banana here acts as a softener and the flour of your choice and sugar with water make it a beautiful batter.  In Tamilnadu cuisine, rice flour is added to deep fried snacks like vadai, bhajji, kara sevu and many more to enhance the crispiness. Karuppatti paniyaram  or sweet paniyaram in many places are made with raw rice and palm/cane jaggery alone.

I tried the appam as its healthier variant ‘paniyaram’ with the combination of red rice flour, wheat flour, ripe banana and palm sugar. This powdered Cambodian palm sugar was the last of the batch and I have no more of it, which I realized only after the batter was done and no photos clicked. Hence, the picture shows unrefined cane sugar instead of palm sugar.

The addition of equal quantity of red rice powder, made the paniyaram extra stronger to withhold its shape with the beautiful texture of crispiness than soft.
  

Sivapparisi Karuppatti Paniyaram/Banana Fritters with Red rice and Palm Sugar
  

Ingredients

  


 

the last batch of palm sugar powder


 

  • sivapparisi maavu/red rice flour – 3/4 cup
  • gothumai maavu/wheat flour – 3/4 cup
  • panai vellam/palm jaggery (powder)- 1 cup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • well ripe soft banana – big – 1 no.s ; if small – 2 no.s
  • salt – a pinch
  • water – as needed to make a thick batter
  • oil – to fry in paniyara chatti/mould

  
Method of Preparation

  


  

  1. In a blender, add both flours, palm sugar,banana, cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, salt, baking soda with water and blend into a thick batter, almost like a cake batter.
  2. The only ingredient left out is oil
  3. Pour the batter in a bowl and adjust water if needed
  4. Heat the Paniyaram Pan and pour 1/2 tsp oil in each mould and let the oil heat up
  5. Pour 1 dinner spoon of batter in each and let it turn golden brown. Because of the palm sugar, the golden brown would be darker brown
  6. Flip the half done paniyaram, for the other side to cook
  7. When done, remove and place it first in an open container. Immediately closing the container would soften the paniyaram.
  8. Sivapparisi Paniyaram is ready.

  

Note

  


  

  1. One can replace palm sugar with cane jaggery. Dissolve jaggery in water and strain for impurities and make a thin syrup.
  2. The syrup can be used instead of water with all the above mentioned ingredients to make paniyaram batter.
  3. The flexibility of this appam/paniyaram is that one can even omit the banana, or replace the red rice with wheat flour with banana.
  4. If one doesn’t have paniyara chatti, feel free to deep fry or even make wonderful pancakes with the same batter.

 

‘Manoharam’ – Gram Flour Fritters (Churros) dipped in jaggery syrup

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Manoharam is a traditional Tirunelveli sweet. The gram flour fritters soaked in gorgoeus golden-caramelly cane/palm jaggery syrup is a delight in every crispy bite.  With healthy Bengal gram flour and no white flour as the base and Unrefined Jaggery and no white sugar caramel for the coating, this is a no nonsense fritter as well as a childhood comfort snack.

When asked about the recipe, Amma fondly remembered both me and my little brother, having plates filled with these crispy fritters as an after school snack, giving more emphasis to the filled plates. Those were the days of no botheration of putting on weight, leave alone childhood obesity. We could burn the nutritious extra calories earned from healthy millet flours and cane and palm sugars, with the crazy amounts of time we spent playing in the streets. No store bought chips or cakes, buns or pastries loaded with white flour, white sugar and salt.

Manoharam and Spanish Churros – great observation by my Little Chef

Since I didn’t have the thenkuzhal/plain murukku – fritter disc, I used the magizhampoo disc – which is a sharp edged or star shaped fritter disc. Once the fritters were done, the little chef at home exclaimed that they resembled Spanish Churros, thanks to so many cookery shows in countless channels. That observation was quite a surprise to me indeed. When I put my eyes through her thought, the traditional Manoharam did look like Churros. While Churros are made with all purpose flour and coated with cinnamon sugar, Manoharam is made with gram flour, rice flour and a pinch of salt. And instead of the chocolate sauce to dip, we coat them in jaggery syrup. Both the tastes are completely different, created with local ingredients available – yet, there seems to be a slight similarity in the concept of making and looks.

If you don’t feel so, that’s ok.. let’s move on to recipe.

For a detail look at churros, I referred http://www.justataste.com/easy-homemade-churros-chocolate-sauce-recipe/

Manoharam

for fritters

  • kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour/besan – 1 cup
  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • ulundha maavu/dehusked black gram flour/urad – 2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 1 tbsp
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • thanneer/water – as needed

 

for syrup

  • vellam/cane jaggery – 1 cup
  • thanneer/water = 1/2 cup
  • yelakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp

Method of Preparation
Bengal gram flour and rice flour may be easily available in stores. Black gram flour should be made at home.

I. Making Black gram/Urad flour

  1. Heat a hard bottomed vessel or kadai
  2. Dry roast ulundham paruppu/urad dal – dehusked black gram till golden brown
  3. Grind to a fine powder in a blender
  4. Sieve it and keep aside
  5. Cool and Store in air tight container, and use when needed.

 

II. Making Fritters

  1. Sieve all three flours without lumps

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2. Add salt (just a pinch), clarified butter and just enough water to make a stiff dough
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3. Heat oil in a pan for deep frying
4. Use any single holed disc of a Murukku Maker to make the fritter (for details of murukku maker and single holed disc, refer – https://dosaikal.com/the-all-time-favourite-murukku/
5. Take a portion of the dough and place inside the cylindrical container of the murukku maker and press into big circles,  directly inside hot oil
6. Fry both sides till golden brown

 

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7. Remove in kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil

8. Break them into finger sized pieces
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9. Keep them aside till we make the jaggery coating.

 

III. Making Jaggery Syrup and Coating the Fritters

  1. Let jaggery dissolve in water
  2. Filter the liquid to remove impurities
  3. Take a pan and pour the jaggery water
  4. Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder
  5. Let the liquid come to a single string consistency or thick enough to roll the fritters through
  6. Keep the stove in sim position to judge the right syrup consistency

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7. Once the liquid has become a syrup, drop all the fritters and gently mix well in the syrup

8. Let the stove be on and the thick hot syrup would coat the fritters well and reach the required crisp texture

 

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9. When the syrup is thick and coated completely in the fritters, switch off stove

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10. Jaggery coated glowing Manoharam is ready.

 

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Happy Deepavali 2016 with Thiripagam – an easy variant of Badam Halwa

 

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pre-diwali and diwali delicacies

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Deepavali falls on the 29th of October, 2016 in Tamilnadu. If Deepavali means lots of happiness and loads of sweets and snacks- the festivity arrived a week earlier at home.

In the earlier decades of joint families or extended families close by, or at least a few siblings to share and pick up the last bits of sweets and snacks from the thooku chatti, festivals meant making of sweets and savories literally in several kilograms if not tonnes.

Presently, with nuclear families, especially with single children or children in different destinations, the sweet and savories story isn’t a kilogram affair, but has become a ‘grammy’ indulgence. Additionally, there is no aachi-amma duo to occupy the kitchen for consecutive hours, patiently filling the big chattis with goodies. Making so many delicacies in a couple of days fit for consumption for diwali and a few days beyond has become too strenuous now, atleast for me.

But, when the most important ingredient of a good festival – the energy to make and share traditional sweets and savories was still bright and shining as the lights of Diwali, there arose a patient plan. The patience behind making several goodies gave rise to a Pre-Diwali weekend.Instead of slogging in kitchen with so many things in mind, I started off with a few last weekend. Festivity started a week earlier, yes- for the sheer temptation of making more and introducing more traditional sweets and snacks.

Cooking is a bliss when you have people around to gobble it in a jiffy. Now, I really miss the ever hungry tummy of my little brother, who let amma and aachi feel delighted to make more and more ‘norukku theeni’ aka nibblers with the same enthusiasm for years together.

Yet, I have a little nibble hunter, who is as enthusiastic to taste new palagaram/snacks as to cook a few.

These are a few of my little one’s contributions for this Diwali…

 

magizhampoo murukku by her

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And also, a few kiliyanchatti/diyas hand painted for several occasions

painted lamps in gorgeous colors

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and this one’s already lit with imagination

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For the Pre-Diwali weekend, I made

  1. Gulab Jamun
  2. murukku in two different shapes

and  3. dragonny jilebis (those first attempt jilebis which turned out off-shape)

Mid way in the week, started off with the true notion of cooking traditional sweets from the place I hail from – Tirunelveli.
Thiripagam, Manoharam and Kara Sevu passed to the top of the list. If the first two resemble names of mythical characters beyond seas, that’s merely co-incidental. Not to worry, they are sweets and the third one is a popular spicy savory, available throughout South India.

 

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First, to the most uncommon among the three – Thiripagam.
When Amma had already started with Thiripagam – a long forgotten sweet, I just grabbed the opportunity of introducing the same here. Thanks to her, took step by step instructions to make.

I was introduced to this elegantly presented sweet in my uncle’s marriage. The feast had this different sweet, but with a very familiar taste. Was it Mysore Pak or Badam Halwa ? The former is the ghee oozing/melting in the mouth sweet with bengal gram flour and the latter is the wonder pudding with the goodness of almonds. Now, Thiripagam is somewhere between both. Kadalai Maavu or Bengal Gram Flour is the base ingredient with equal proportion of nei/clarified butter. Add the sugar and it would very well become mysore pak. This sweet has an additional inclusion of milk to the gram flour, that acts as an alternate to the almond milky flavor. These might be reasons for the resemblance of Badam Halwa and familiarity of Mysore Pak.

The pudding is shaped in rectangles or squares and wrapped in cookie sheet/butter paper. This is what aids in its elegant presentation with the distinct taste.

If made in a micro wave, this is certainly a 10 minute sweet to prepare. But since I don’t prefer micro wave cooking, I’ve done in the pan, which took about 30 minutes of stirring to reach the adequate kali/halwa consistency.

Thiripagam

 

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Thiripagam, – which means three parts, where the name must have come from the three core ingredients – bengal gram flour, clarified butter and milk.

 

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Ingredients (makes 16 pieces)

 

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  • kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour (besan) – 1 cup
  • nei/clarified butter (ghee) – 1 cup
  • paal/milk – 1 cup
  • cheeni/sugar – 3/4 cup
  • kungumapoo/saffron – generous strands

 

Though Amma mentioned the quantity of sugar could vary between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, I added only 3/4th of a cup. One can alter as per their sweet preference. Another alteration I made was the deduction of pachai karpooram/edible camphor. The flavor of the sweet comes from edible camphor, but I thought saffron could be a flavorful component to this exceptional sweet.

 

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Sieve kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour and keep ready
  2. Warm milk and mix the saffron strands
  3. In a bowl, mix the sieved flour, sugar, 1/2 cup clarified butter and milk with saffron – without lumps

 

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4. Having the batter without lumps is very important – I used a fork to press the few lumps that was left over in the batter

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5. Keep the other 1/2 cup clarified butter to add in the end when pudding is almost done

6. Mix well till all sugar is dissolved

7. Heat the batter in a non-stick pan and let it boil

8. Keep stirring and when it starts boiling, simmer the burner

 

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9. The batter would reach a thicker consistency in about 30 minutes time in sim position

 

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10. At this stage, pour the reserved 1/2 cup clarified butter and stir well

 

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11. When the kali/halwa has become thick enough to be spread in a plate, switch off stove

12. Spread the halwa in a greased plate and cut into rectangular/square piece when warm

13. Take cookie sheets and cut into squares enough to fold the thiripagam pieces

14. Place the piece inside the cookie sheet and fold into beautiful squares

 

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15. Thiripagam is ready in its perfect presentation.

 

Ellu Kozhukkattai/ Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery

 

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 070dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 073
Pillayar Chathurthi, Ganesh Chathurthi or Vinayaka Chathurthi is being celebrated today. The Gods we worship have different names in different parts of India. Pillayar in Tamilnadu is also called as Ganesha or Vinayaka, followed by a list of many other names. Different names don’t interfere in the festivities on the street and inside homes.  What the elephant-headed God, being Pillayar or Ganesha likes is fixed – Kozhukkattai in Tamil and Modakam in Sanskrit. Different Forms of Modak are the most important preparation of Pillayar Chaturthi.

Added to the well popularised Modakam in the God’s hands, is a long chain of local ingredients – fruits, vegetables and grains that come up during the season.

In Tamilnadu, what Lord Ganesha is simplified in the poetic verses – ‘Appamodu Aval Pori’ – which gives the best three things that he likes to eat –

a. Appam/Deep fried Rice flour-jaggery Dumplings (the altered version being made with wheat flour and sometimes banana too)
b. Aval – Flattened Rice
c. Pori – Puffed Rice.

This also shows the socioeconomic connection behind these religion based celebrations. The major crop of the area – Rice and its different versions, has been adapted as ‘Festive Food Essentials’. I often think, if Ganesh Chathurthi had been celebrated elaborately in the northern parts of India – Wheat based specialities would have been his favorite, wheat being the major crop of that part of the country.

Now, the core ingredient of Kozhukkattai or Modakam is the rice flour. What enters into the beautiful rice cover can be optional. Coconut – Jaggery is the ultimate killer combination of all kozhukkattais according to me. The next classic filling is the Sesame Seed – Jaggery combination. The nutty flavor that the sesame seeds give and the traditional sweetness from jaggery can also be a low-fat version for those who feel coconut or fried coconut is rich in cholesterol (not me). Apart from this stuffed modakams, there are also varieties of non-stuffed stuff – pidi kozhukkattai or plain sweetened or salted steamed dumplings pressed with the impression of fingers – that aid additionally as quick and easy evening snacks.

Coconut-Jaggery Kozhukkattai and Pidi Kozhukkattai – Sweet and Salt and Spicy versions, have already been posted. It’s time for Ellu Kozhukkattai or Sesame Seed-Jaggery filled Dumplings this time.
Ellu Kozhukkattai/Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery
dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 032
a. Ingredients specified below makes 20-25 dumplings

b. The V -Part demonstration is for precise comprehension alone – otherwise these dumplings are quite easy to make

 

Part I – Making Rice Flour at home
The core ingredient Rice Flour can be store-bought which comes out well, but the snow-white colour of home-made rice flour is something beyond comparison. For those who prefer home-made rice flour, please refer https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/
Part II – Making the Rice Dough which is the outer covering

Ingredients

 

  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1 1/2 cup – app. 200 gms
  • thanneer/water – boiling hot to make a stiff yet soft dough
  • uppu/salt – 1/2 tsp
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp

 

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 016

 

  1. Boil water in a vessel;
  2. In a bowl, mix rice flour and salt;
  3. Pour boiling hot water on it and mix well with a ladle immediately before lumps form;
  4. Add the gingelly oil for smooth consistency.

 

Part III – Making the filling

 

  • ellu/sesame seeds (white or black) – 100 gms – app. 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 200 gms – app. 1 cup
  • thengai thuruval/grated coconut – 1/2 cup – app. 50 gms
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp

 

roasted sesame with jaggery water…

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 005

 

mixed with coconut, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder..

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and shaped to be filled..

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  1. Dry roast clean/non-muddy sesame seeds till golden.
  2. Separately dry roast coconut – for 10 mins – with the coco-nutty stickiness intact.
  3. Dissolve jaggery in just enough hot water and filter the mud that is present.
  4. In a pan, heat together sesame seeds, grated coconut, jaggery water, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder.
  5. Let the mixture thicken, ready enough to make small stiff balls.
  6. Make equal sized balls for filling.

Part IV – Making Kozhukkattai/Dumplings

(for step-by-step procedure for keeping the filling inside and closing kozhukkattai please refer – https://dosaikal.com/2011/09/14/modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special/

 

  1. Make small equal sized balls for the outer covering.
  2. Keep a bowl with 3 tsp gingelly oil for greasing palm – this helps the rice dough not sticking to the palm.
  3. Grease palm with gingelly oil.
  4. Take one rice ball and press it flat in the palm and fill it with one sesame jaggery ball.
  5. Cover it well and make kozhukkattai/dumpling.
  6. Make all dumplings to be steamed.

 

ready to be steamed

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Part V – Steaming Modhakams

 

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  1. Take an Idli Kopparai/Idli Cooker or any Steamer.
  2. Boil water in the base of the steamer.
  3. Oil the moulds and place the kozhukkattai/dumplings.
  4. Place the mould in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
  5. Kozhukkattais are ready to be served.

 

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Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

 

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Vella seedai, as the name suggests is made of vellam or cane jaggery. The sweetness of the festive delicacy comes from the traditional jaggery and the right consistency of the dough results in a crunchy melting snack.

As mentioned in the Uppu Seedai recipe in the previous post, the dough stands the risk of melting while frying, the culprit being the temperature of jaggery, we need room temperature jaggery water. Hot jaggery water might lead to a break-up of seedai in hot oil. The sweet deep fried balls lose their shape and end up in a powdery chunk if the jaggery water is hot. So, one needs to be cautious on that.

Otherwise, this sweet is an easier affair in comparison to Uppu seedai, which can be revolutionary and exploding.

The step by step procedure of making of the basic rice flour has already been posted in https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/

But, to reduce web-browsing time, I repeat the procedures below.
Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

Before making seedai, we need home made, fine powdered rice flour, the core ingredient for both the salt and sweet version of seedai.
Rice Flour

 

  • Wash well and soak 3 cups pacharisi/raw rice in enough water for 2 hours. Drain the water and spread in a clean cloth, preferably cotton towel which would absorb the excess water and dry the rice inside the room.

 

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  • Never use paper, especially newspapers to dry rice or any kitchen purposes, as they contain highly dangerous ink which can cause illnesses.
  • The rice shouldn’t be dried too much. With a bit of moisture still in the rice, dry grind in a blender to a fine powder.
  • Sieve well and keep aside

 

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Dehusked Black Gram Flour
Also needed is black gram flour, which is dry roasted and powdered.

dry roasted…

 

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and powdered…

 

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  • Grind again the granules left over from the first sieve
  • Combine only very fine powder which is very important in the making of seedai.

Ingredients (makes 75-80 balls)

 

  • pacharisi maavu /rice flour – 2 cups
  • ulundhu maavu/dehusked black gram flour – 2 tbsp
  • varutha ellu/roasted sesame seeds – 2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tbsp
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • vellam/cane jaggery – grated – 1/2 cup
  • thanneer/water – to dissolve jaggery
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 2 tbsp
  • yennai/oil – for frying

Method of Preparation
Part I

 

  1. Dry roast rice flour till aroma comes out, but be careful not to over roast as it will change the colour of flour.
  2. Take jaggery in enough water and heat slightly till it dissolves. We do not want a syrup here. So, be cautious.
  3. Strain and keep aside.

 

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Part II

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  1. Mix all the dry ingredients – rice flour, black gram flour, sesame seeds, salt and grated coconut with clarified butter.
  2. Make a stiff dough with just enough jaggery water.
  3. Always have extra flour (both rice and black gram) in hand. This might come handy when the dough becomes soft.

 

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Part III

 

  1. Heat oil for deep frying in a pan to start frying seedai. Keep in medium flame.
  2. Make small balls of equal size.
  3. Fry in medium hot oil till done – end product would be dark brownish in colour.
  4. Drain excess oil in kitchen tissue and store in an air-tight container.

 

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Cheeni Kizhangu/Sarkkarai Valli Kizhangu-Karuppatti/Sweet Potatoes in Palm Sugar Syrup

 

sweet potato soaked in palm jaggery syrup

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I have very less memories of Sarkkarai Valli Kizhangu or Cheeni Kizhangu – Sweet Potato as a vegetable. But I have evergreen memories of sweet potatoes floating in a tub of Palm syrup in Thoothukudi, my maternal grandmother’s house.

The big chatti or hot vessel filled with sweet aromatic Palm jaggery syrup and the  floating sweet potatoes inside was one of my favorites. Of course, still is. Mildly spiced with dry ginger for balance and added digestion, this delicacy can be had hot, warm or cold.

Cubed or Circled Sweet Potato pieces cooked in Palm Jaggery Syrup is a sweet coated with Divinity. No, it isn’t served for the Gods but the Divinity comes from its soaked flavor. The naturally mildly sweet Sweet Potato dipped in the flavorful Palm Jaggery Syrup offers a unique aroma and taste different from the other well-known sweets of Tamilnadu.

This might be termed as a healthy sweet as there is no frying involved.

 

Why should we stick to Traditional Foods?

 

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Do you believe in  –

 

  • the whole wheat breads of market that offer 50 % refined flour and still take the name ‘whole wheat’?
  • the baked chips with loads of sodium that still claim to be 0% cholesterol?
  • the high sugar/banned low sugar or honey filled granular bars that claim to be health snacks to start the day?
  • the mostly refined ready to eat whole grain cereals that are sent through high heat to be moisture free for longer shelf life?
  • and additionally, do you believe in the never-ending list of hazardous goodies that cheat us in the name of health food?

 

If you don’t believe in the above, then I’d suggest you to try out the traditional recipes of each culture.

Believe me!

These Sweet Potatoes –

  1. cooked in Palm Jaggery
  2. soaked well in the same syrup
  3. not deep-fried
  4. do not possess the minutest droplet of butter, ghee or oil
  5. no added milk or coconut milk
  6. no added cream or coconut cream

– can be claimed fat-free, gluten-free, free from milk and milk products, no allergic nuts involved in making, no soy products and so on.
Fortunately,  there is no claim of traditional sweets to be fat-free – no tagged promises. As there cannot be any food that could be completely fat-free/sugar-free/chemical free/ and to top the list – that is suitable for all. It is for the consumers to identify what suits their family, more importantly what suits their pocket and most importantly what suits their family’s health and well-being. But staying away from products that have higher shelf life and those beautifully arranged in the stores, could definitely be a healthier choice for the family, especially with growing children.

This simple logic has made me believe and rely completely on traditional foods. They don’t stay longer – reason one, we lick the bowls to our heart’s content and then, they have no added preservatives to stay long and tempt us longer. They can be high in calories, high in sugar, high in cholesterol as analyzed by dietitians. But, they are at a comfort kitchen zone where the intolerant levels can be altered.

Hence, while one cannot alter the sugar content of sweet potatoes, feel free to alter the amount of Palm jaggery used in the recipe.

 

Sweet Potatoes and the South East Asian Connection

 

 

I am amazed by the connection of south East Asian cuisine with the cuisine of Tamilnadu. On our visit to Indonesia, I could taste the same Cheeni kizhangu karuppatti in Indonesia, but with the twist of taste with coconut milk. Yummy Treat! The same Sweet Potato in different parts of the world can be used in different ways. But the abundance of Palm and Palm Sugar and Coconut and Coconut Milk has given way to a number of common recipes among the different countries of South-East Asia, Srilanka and Southern India that share sea space. This cuisine connect is also a remarkable proof of the successful maritime trade between Tamilnadu and other South East Asian Countries extending till China, the give and take of several recipes twisted to local tastes.

Here is the name of the delicacies with almost the same preparation. Please correct me for errors.

Indonesian – 

Biji Salak – Sweet Potato Dumplings cooked in Palm Sugar Syrup and flavoured with coconut milk and Pandan (screw pine) leaves and thickened with tapioca flour

Kolak Biji Salak – The above mentioned sweet with the addition of Bananas

Malaysian – 

Bubur Cha Cha – Sweet porridge made with 3 kinds of differently coloured sweet potatoes, yam, tapioca pearls (sago),  bananas and black eyed beans, thickened with tapioca flour and added flavor with coconut milk and Pandan leaves

Singaporean – 

BoBo Cha Cha – Bubur Cha Cha is also called BoBo Cha Cha and made with a mixture of different colored tapioca pearls. http://www.singaporelocalfavourites.com/2010/08/easy-bo-bo-cha-cha-recipe.html

 

Now, to the Tamil Recipe –

Cheeni Kizhangu Karuppatti/ Sweet Potatoes in Palm Jaggery Syrup

 

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Ingredients

  • cheeni kizhangu/sweet potatoes – 1/2 kg
  • karuppatti/palm jaggery – 1/4 kg
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • water – 250 ml and little more for potatoes to float

 

Method of Preparation
1. Wash and peel sweet potatoes

2. Cut them into circles preferably or cubes as per the size of potatoes

 

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3. In a pan, place Palm jaggery and water and heat slightly till jaggery completely dissolves

4. Filter the liquid as Cane or Palm jaggery always consist impurities/mud

5. Take this liquid in a wide and hard bottomed pan and add dry ginger powder and cardamom powder

 

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6. Add the cut sweet potatoes and add little more water if potatoes don’t have enough syrup to float

 

7. Slow cook sweet potatoes in the Palm syrup till done

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8. Pressure cooking would result in mashed potatoes; Slow cooking the pieces in the syrup not only enhances the flavor but also helps in perfectly soft and spoon-able pieces

9. By the time the potatoes are cooked, the syrup would have thickened a bit

10. Yet there would be enough syrup for the sweet potatoes to float in

11. Enjoy this delicious sweet hot or cold.

 

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Note:

  1. If you have access to different colored sweet potatoes, just indulge – do not worry about the color.
  2. If there is no Palm jaggery available, try using powdered Palm sugar available in Thai markets, or use any unrefined cane sugar or jaggery.  No white sugar here please.
  3. If the potatoes are huge in size – slice in halves, if the circles turn out to be too big
  4. If preferred, this sweet can also be converted into a Payasam/Kheer, with the addition of coconut milk (like the Indonesian Biji Sala)

Ulundhankali/Black Gram Pudding – To my daughter with Love

 

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Ulundhankali/Ulundhu kali/Ulundhamkali – these are different ways of spelling out a super healthy sweet. It translates as Black Gram Pudding. It is a black gram-palm jaggery sweet from Tamilnadu, made especially for young girls during those special days of the menstrual cycle.
Ulundhu or Uluntham-paruppu means Black Gram
Kali is the word for a thick/sticky pudding. Take note not to pronounce it as ‘Kaali’ with a double ‘a’, which denotes the Hindu Goddess or Shakti of India.

Kali is pronounced as –

‘Ka’ as in Kabab or Kanji with ‘a’ as short vowel and

‘Li as in muesli or vermicelli.

As gentle as its name, this pudding is also very soft in consistency. But, the soft yet thick pudding can play different roles in the healthy life of a girl as a tasty sweet as well as a medicine.

Girls grow up to play several roles in the society… Of course that stands good for boys too. No gender bias here. But, as tradition goes and in reality, the healthy balance of the different roles played by women is directly related not only to their own well-being and sound health, but to the well-being of their families too.

When a girl says good-bye to childhood and is ready for the next phase, the organs responsible for her ability to continue the beautiful process of Procreation need additional focus. That responsibility of making her healthy to be part of branching the family tree, lies in the hands of mothers and grand-mothers, who were little girls long long ago.

 

pudding or sweet ball, as preferred

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One of the key elements to sound reproductive health has been transferred from generation to generation through a few kitchen tricks. Ulundhankali or Black gram Pudding is one element of those handing-over strategies. One doesn’t know when this started. Hence, a tiny bit of imagination to understand… When my great grand mother became a big girl, her mother gave her ulundhamkali, taught by her grandmother in order to –

a. keep the hip bones strong,
b. completely cleanse the uterus after every menstrual cycle,
c. thereby develop her uterus without fibroid and cysts.

That is why, when the monthly cycle is done, we are given Black Gram Rice with Sesame Seed Chutney (refer – dosaikal.com/blackgramrice-sesame seed chutney) and this Kali/Black Gram Pudding. These foods are believed to act as uterus cleansers.

No written records here…. Only stories of information passed on by word of mouth from mothers to daughters. The making and consuming of ‘Kali’ starts with early teenage and goes on till menopausal stage of every woman.

The long generational chain hasn’t been cut till now and so the information thread is well intact.  So, this recipe of Ulundhankali is in honour of mothers, grand mothers and great grand mothers who have passed on the torch of good health to the daughters of their home.

So, here it is…. KALI – an exceptional recipe for the most precious princess and angel of my life. A mother’s contribution in making a Princess transform into a Majestic Queen!
The goodness of ingredients
The goodness of Kali lies in the most important three ingredients that go in the making. Each of the ingredients is rich in nutrient value and what impresses me the most, is the thought process that went into making such a balanced food, that aids in the core well being of the core member of each household. Especially, starting it off at an early age to proceed smoothly into the consecutive phases of adulthood in the journey of life.

 

black gram – whole or split but with skin

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Ulundham Paruppu/Black Gram: The health notes on Black gram, which is the main ingredient of this simple 3 ingredient pudding, has already been discussed in – dosaikal.com/black gram rice with sesame chutney

 

karuppatti/palm jaggery

 

Health benefits of palm jaggery –

 

  1. high in energy and low in calories compared to white sugar
  2. rich in iron and helps fight anemia
  3. regulates liver functions
  4. symptoms of PMS like fatigue, irritability, weakness and muscle spasms can all be regulated with jaggery
  5. can boost the immune system and fight germs and infections. Regular intake can increase the resistance power of the body
  6. the potassium present in jaggery is vital for healthy nervous system functions and helps in smooth functioning http://www.diyhealthremedy.com/14-great-health-benefits-of-palm-jaggery/

 

nallennai/gingelly oil or sesame oil

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Wellness aspects of sesame seeds have been posted in dosaikal.com/black gram rice with sesame chutney.

In the making of Kali,  sesame seed oil, which is called Nallennai in Tamil and Gingelly Oil or cold pressed Sesame Seed oil acts as a binding agent of the sticky pudding. The gingelly oil used for cooking and cosmetic purposes in the southern part of India, was cold pressed oil. Not very sure whether today’s store bought, packaged Nallennai/Gingelly oil still uses traditional ways of low heat extraction. But, a satisfying sight is the ‘Chekku’ or traditional oil extracting machines newly cropping up in the cities of Tamilnadu.
 Cold Pressed Sesame Oil

Cold-pressed sesame oil is a good source of vitamin E, containing 11.8 mg of the vitamin for every 100 g of the oil. Vitamin E gives sesame oil its antioxidant property. It also has a high concentration of fatty acids, including polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids and monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids. Other constituents of cold-pressed sesame oil include zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium and iron as well as vitamin B-6. Zinc contributes to healthy bones; copper is good for the management of rheumatoid arthritis; calcium is essential for the prevention of osteoporosis, migraine and colon cancer; and magnesium contributes to respiratory health. http://www.livestrong.com/article/498331-cold-pressed-sesame-oil-benefits/

 

The ‘Chekku Yennai’ or grinding sesame seeds with a pestle and extracting oil with no high temperature setting is the traditional-goodness filled oil extracting method.
Alarming fact of present day refined oils –

The modern method of oil extraction involves supplying a lot of heat. The oilseed is first crushed, and the pulp is heated under pressure. As a result, almost all the oil is extracted.

The downside is that the oil is heated up to temperatures of 230 degree centigrade. Heating it to such high temperatures alters the properties of the oil molecules in unfavourable ways (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons  are formed at high temperatures which are carcinogenic) – and strips it off of its nutritional value.

For optimum extraction of oil, a solvent is added, in this case, hexane. The hazards of exposure to hexane are many – including dermatitis and CNS depression – depending upon the quantity of hexane inhaled or ingested. http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/cold-pressed-oil-switch-refined-oil-much-healthier-alternative/

 

KALI – Research and Development

red rice and black gram

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The first step in making Kali is making a powder out of Black Gram. Roasted Black gram is milled to a fine powder.

The traditional method of making Kali is by cooking the powder directly with Palm Jaggery water and Gingelly oil with constant stirring. This might take hours and result in a beautifully darkened, glossy Kali, with the addition of sore fingers and aching elbows and shoulders.

Aachis and Ammas (grandmothers and mothers) never bothered about their aches those days. And after all, making this pudding is all about that – reducing muscular, joint aches and strengthening bones. Might be they had an extra bowl of the strengthening KALI, to treat the after-effects – their aches.

After thorough analysis of the condition of our already very strong bones and muscles (so many stories of chiropractors and physio-therapists that we visit these days before 40), the elders of our households have devised an easier version of the extensive process of Kali Making.

The new found result after research comprises two main changes –

1. Mixing red rice to the black gram while making a powder – to aid in a ‘not so sticky’ paste;
2. Pressure cooking the three main ingredients – which drastically reduces the time involved in the making of kali.

After this simplified process, the Kali mixture (red rice-black gram powder cooked in palm jaggery water) is again cooked well in a pan with oil but with reduced stirring and brought to the right consistency. No complaints of joint aches and muscle pulls while making Kali anymore.

The introduction of red rice has reduced the trouble further. As mentioned previously, Ulundhamkali is usually made with ulundhu/black gram alone. But the sticky texture might be hard to handle sometimes. And might result in a burnt or lumpy semi-solid in the cooker. The addition of red rice (better than processed white rice) blends the mixture into a sticky cake in the cooker. This would be easily removable from the pressure cooker and transferred into the hard bottomed chatti/pan. Lastly, the sticky pudding is cooked well with gingelly oil.

The last ingredient which is the gingelly oil, helps bringing the sticky paste to a beautifully glowing glossy pudding. The end product ‘Kali’ can also be made into ‘urundai’ or sweet balls, easy for children.

 

Ulundhankali/Black Gram Kali – Palm Jaggery Pudding

 

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Step I

Making the Kali Powder

 

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  • muzhu ulundhu/black gram (split or whole but with skin intact) – 1 cup – 100gms
  • Sivapparisi/Red rice – 1/2 cup – 50 gms

 

  1. Dry roast black gram and red rice separately till a beautiful roasted aroma comes out
  2. Milling is the best as a fine powder yields better pudding. When there are no chances of milling, powder both together in a mixer and filter to remove coarse lentil-rice particles
  3. Use the fine powder alone for making kali; No compromises here
  4. The left over coarse powder can be used for any other dosais

 

Step II

Making Kali

Ingredients

  • ulundhu-arisi maavu combo/black gram-red rice powder combo – 1 cup or 100gms
  • karuppatti/palm jaggery – 150 gms
  • thanneer/water – 2 cups
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp (my optional inclusion)
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 1/2 cup (little more or little less, but more the better)

 

Method of Preparation
1. Let 150 gms palm jaggery dissolve in 2 cups of water; Strain it
2. Mix 1 cup of Kali powder in strained Palm jaggery water
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3. Pour the mixture into a cooking utensil with 2 tsp nallennai/gingelly oil
4. Pressure cook in the separate cooking utensil inside the cooker – After the first whistle, reduce flame and let cook for 5 minutes
Note: Never cook the mixture in direct pressure cooker as the palm jaggery would burn and kali would stick to the cooker. Pressure cook in a separate utensil inside the cooker base with water to avoid burning. Yet, the mixture would be sticky but no burnt jaggery here

 

5. When done, remove from the cooker and transfer the cooked mixture into a hard bottomed pan with gingelly oil

sticky mixture from the cooker

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6. Keep stirring well till the sticky mixture reaches a non-sticky consistency
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7. The beauty of the glowing Kali after addition of oil is certainly a remarkable feat

oil needs to get incorporated well to lose its sticky texture

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8. It is just right to serve when the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom and scoops out well in a ladle .

hurray!

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Enjoy Kali feeding your young ones. Additionally, Kali is also suitable for all, as it aids in keeping our bones stronger.

So, I mention again… this was it…. KALI – an exceptional recipe for the most precious princess and angel of my life. A mother’s contribution in making a Princess transform into a Majestic Queen!

The Macaroons of Thoothukudi – Cashewnut Goodies from Coastal Tamilnadu!

 

the beautiful macaroon biscuits

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The memory of soft, crunchy, melting macaroons summarizes the good old days of Thaatha Veedu or Grandpa’s house. Those were the days we had little or no concern on the fat intake. Just open the flavorful boxes of Ivory Macaroons of Thoothukudi and gobble five to six at one go…this was a normal event. Macaroons to me are synonymous to many many more childhood memories, richly associated with grandparents and a big gang of an extended family.

Nostalgia knows no currency. The simplest kodukkapuli (twisted tamarind) and the arunellikkai (small gooseberries) from the road side vendor outside school, the kuchi ice (stick ice-cream) from the mobile ice-cream man that we got for Rs.1 each and the elite macaroons that thaatha used to send with us after our summer holidays bring in the same ever green memories of the very special home town alike.

There is no record of the time of introduction to macaroon biscuits while we belong to the coastal city of Thoothukudi. When our digestive system became strong enough for semi-solid food, a pinch of powdered macaroons must have gone in between our toothless jaws. The rest of the story of consuming several kilogrammes of macaroons before completion of schooling is history.

 

True, we would have had countless macaroons, without knowing how it is made. We might not have known how and with what ingredients half of the snacks or goodies we consumed were made of. But with macaroons the case is different. Especially a vegetarian family, enjoying macaroons which are purely made of egg whites and sugar, could be a trend setting relaxation to conservative ideologies.

The good fortune of having made so many lives smile after giving them a packed box of exclusive macaroon biscuits from our home town as gift is enough for our family for many more generations to come. Seems exaggerated?? Could be… But such is the elevated position of ‘The Macaroon Biscuit’ in Thoothukudi.

 

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Ignorance is Bliss

On a lighter side, after so many years, what makes me jittery is the thought of giving the same box of beautifully shaped conical goodies to so many hard core vegetarian families –  both the giver and the receiver – unaware of the kilograms of egg whites gone into the box of macaroon biscuits, specially brought as a souvenir from Thoothukudi.  Now, Sharing, Caring and making people Happy are some of the greatest Virtues in life you can provide to the world. By this logic, I think we have done only good to those we delivered the Ivory Macaroon Biscuits. I tell to myself – “It’s something like having cakes, pastries and many more mousses taking no count of the eggs or the gelatin involved in the making.”

This long personal story is just not enough to emphasize the special place of  ‘macaroons of Thoothukudi’ in my life. Macaroons have played different roles in our intake of sweets and snacks. They could be the after school snack, dessert of the day, special goodies for friends and visiting dear ones, comfort snack during hunger pranks, the most elite souvenir and what not?..  Judge it junk or not junk… Macaroons are beyond all those jargons.

If the reader is reminded of advertisements that concentrate on persuading the customers to buy their product on all occasions, this is truly unintentional.
Ivory Macaroons

 

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I call them the Ivory Macaroons due to the color. The ivory color of the macaroons, comes from the Cashew nut powder added to the Egg-white and sugar mixture. While French macarons come in varied colors, Thoothukudi macaroons are solely ivory in color and there is no addition to diversify the true cashew nutty flavor.

 

History of Macaroons in the Southern City of Tamilnadu (India)

Before writing on the making of Macaroons, here is a brief note on the history of the very important Pearl Harbour in Thoothukudi, one of the essential gateways of colonial traders into down south Tamilnadu and the connection of Thoothukudi Macaroons to Meringue, Macaron and Macaroons.

If this tests your patience – Feel free to skip please!

Now, how did Macaroons come to the southern tip of India, from the countries it is believed to have originated? The origins of Macaroons in Thoothukudi must be surely the result of the Colonial Connection. Apart from the cane/palm jaggery based traditional sweets exclusive to down south districts of Tamilnadu, Thoothukudi has always been famous for its bakery products – be it the plum cake or the nutty caramel toffee.
Thoothukudi Sea port

For more evidences on the colonial connection of the city –

The Thoothukudi sea port is an ancient port, very resourceful due to its Pearl Fishing opportunities. From ancient times and during the 16th to 19th century ACE and still a source of strong economy for Pearl Fishing, the city of Thoothukudi is hence called ‘Pearl City’.

As a Pearl Fishing Port,

Thoothukudi was occupied by the Portuguese from 1500 ACE to 1658 ACE –

 

There were several flourishing trading centres and ports along the Pearl Fishery Coast. Thoothukudi was the headquarters and it was given its due political, commercial and cultural importance by the Portuguese. It is situated almost at the centre of the Pearl Fishery Coast. The annual pearl fishing was undertaken from here. All the islands are spread out before Thoothukudi. It (Thoothukudi) was strategically important in the sense, that the Portuguese could control Sri Lanka from here due to its proximity.

 

Occupied by the Dutch from 1658 ACE to 1796 ACE –

 

The Dutch increased their presence on the Fishery Coast, taking possession of towns, forts and ships of the Portuguese. Eventually, the Dutch attacked and captured the Portuguese headquarters at Tuticorin in 1658, bringing to an end the 133-year Portuguese rule over the Fishery Coast. The Dutch East India Company now took control of the entire Fishery Coast, all its seaports, the pearl fisheries.

 

And occupied by the British from 1796 ACE till independence in 1947.

With the Dutch and British Rule extended over centuries, there is little doubt on the import of the sugary macaroons into the Port City. But, for the search of specifics, this topic would need an extensive research. Please do let me know of any books or information on the travel of Meringues or Macaroons to South India.

 

The Origins of the Original Macaroon and its connection with Meringue, Macaron and Macaroon

The details learnt from other blogs and websites on the above mentioned trio have been included here purely for the purpose of understanding Macaroons. While trying to know important facts on Macaroons, facts on Meringues become unavoidable. This has helped in better comprehension of the shape of Thoothukudi Macaroons closer to Meringues and the Recipe which belongs to Macarons.

Now, the three words Meringue, Macaron and Macaroon are closely connected and often confused to be the same. Especially for those, who are always elated with their ‘Thoothukudi Mecroon Biscuits’, macaroon or macaron or even a macaroni  could just be spelling errors.

But the western world doesn’t think so and wouldn’t want the world to think that’s a mis-spelt word.  Search the world wide web and all beautiful details unwrap before you.
Meringue:

Meringue is the simplest of the three, with egg white and sugar whipped to stiff peaks and baked. Swiss, French and the Italian Meringue have their differences in technique but the basic ingredients remain the same.

The book ‘Meringue’ by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner talks elaborately on the the history and science of meringue,

 

Larousse Gastronomique, The New American Edition of the World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia:

“Some historians of cookery believe that the meringue was invented by a Swiss pastry cook called Gasparini, who practiced his art in the small town of Meiringen (now in East Germany). Others maintain that the word comes from the Polish word marzynka and that the preparation was invented by a chef in the service of King Stanislas I Leszcyński, who later became Duke of Lorraine. The king passed on the recipe to his daughter, Marie, who introduced it to the French. Queen Marie Antoinette had a great liking for meringues and court lore has it that she made them with her own hands at the Trianon, where she is also said to have made vacherins, which are prepared from a similar mixture.”

http://boingboing.net/2012/09/04/the-history-and-science-of-mer.html

While wikepedia links Douglas Muster’s research on Meringues to a site called http://www.inmamaskitchen.com, I couldn’t get any details on Muster on Meringue from the link.  But in http://www.epicureanpiranha.com/2012/meringue-musings-and-history/, the writer talks of Douglas Muster’s book and states –

‘Muster’s research surprisingly points to England as the country of origin’.

and gives a detailed analysis of Muster’s claim to Meringue as a product of England.

 

Lady Elinor Fettiplace (c. 1570 – c. 1647) provides the earliest written evidence in what was described as a small bound manuscript, dated 1604, with a short recipe for what she called “white bisket bread”, made with a pound & a half of sugar, & an handfull of fine white flower, the whites of twelve eggs beaten verie finelie, proportions which are still in use today! The quantity of flour is so small that it could be compared to the addition of cornstarch in some of today’s recipes.

Lady Rachel Fane (1612/13 – 1680), who lived quite a distance (given the period in question) from Lady Fettiplace, provides a similar recipe for what she called “Pets”, a name still occasionally used to refer to meringues in the Loire region in France.

Despite having been written in the vernacular of the day and being referred to by different names, these two recipes can easily be understood and currently constitute the earliest known, documented proof of meringue being prepared.

http://www.epicureanpiranha.com/2012/meringue-musings-and-history/

 

By this, did the artistically shaped Meringue originate in Britain?? So, the British influence brought the so called Macaroon Biscuits into Thoothukudi?

Now, why write more on the Meringue?? Because Meringues seem to be closest in shape to the Macaroons of Thoothukudi.

 

meringue – closest in shape to our macaroons

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image courtesy: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/14029/basic+meringues

Macaroons and Macarons

After many blogs specifying the differences between Macaroons and Macarons, http://www.popsugar.com/food/Macarons-vs-Macaroons-8038818  seemed to give a clear description of both.

Macaron –

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A macaron specifically refers to a meringue-based cookie made with almond flour, egg whites, and granulated and powdered sugar, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. The delicate treat has a crunchy exterior and a weightless interior with a soft ending that’s almost nougat like in its chewiness. To add to the confusion, it’s often called a French macaroon.
Macaroon –

 

macaroonsimage courtesy: https://lehungryotter.com/2012/09/09/macarons-not-macaroons/
In contrast, the word macaroon is a generic phrase that is applied to a number of small, sweet confections. Mostly, the term is equated with the moist and dense coconut macaroon, which is composed of egg whites, sugar, and dried coconut, often piped with a star-shaped tip, and sometimes dipped in chocolate. The coconut macaroon, or congolais, as it’s known in France, is frequently served during Passover because it contains no flour.

Definition Courtesy: http://www.popsugar.com/food/Macarons-vs-Macaroons-8038818

In a state of confused conclusion, what could be derived is –

  1. Having seen the shapes of Meringue, Macaron and Macaroons, Thoothukudi Macaroon Biscuits are closer in shape and design to Meringue.
  2. Macarons which are a blend of basic ingredients – egg whites, sugar and almond flour have lended their original recipe in the making of the South Indian Delicacy, with the inclusion of the local cashewnut from down south tamilnadu, instead of almond flour.
  3. Macaroons, as mentioned as a generic phrase to the egg white-sugar confections, have given the name to our beloved macaroon biscuits.

 

Visit to Thoothukudi

During our recent trip to Thoothukudi, I had the opportunity to visit one of the popular bakeries of the city, Ganesh Bakery to see the making of the Elite Macaroons.

 

 

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With new and innovative equipment available, making of Macaroons has become easier in a larger scale. But still, the bakers prefer the old fashioned fire wood ovens for its authentic taste.
Making of Macaroons

The Bakery made Macaroon Recipe is for bulk consumption and hence wouldn’t suit a home baker. As for me, I haven’t tried my hands after my first flop.

I found a good and seemingly perfect recipe in http://www.youtoocancook.net/2013/03/thoothukudi-macaroons-south-indian.html, where the pictures show a successful recipe.  This recipe is borrowed from the above mentioned blog.
Ingredients (makes 20)

  • egg whites – 2 no.s (at room temperature)
  • sugar – 120 gms powdered
  • cashewnut powder – 100 gms coarsely powdered

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Follow the below described picture wise procedure in making the batter.
  2. Preheat oven at 150 degrees C
  3. Bake the macaroons in 100 degrees C for 10 minutes.

 

This is a step-by-step procedure that the bakery personnel, led by their supervisory head showed us –

 

  1. First step – Beating egg whites

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beaten well

 

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to stiff peaks..

 

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2. Sugar is mixed –

 

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the egg white – sugar batter is still foamy-

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3.  Then the quintessential cashew nut powder is added. No beater here and notice the color change of batter from white to ivory.

 

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4. Batter is ready and is stuffed into piping cones-

 

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5. These are the strong hands that make the beautiful conical delicacy..

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with great speed…

 

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and greater accuracy and consistency….

 

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6. Macaroons are ready to be baked…
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7. Finally baked right to be tasted.

 

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The Colonial Remainder in Thotthukudi Macaroon Biscuit is a true delight for the sweet toothed. The beauty of the elegantly shaped Macaroon could easily be one of its kind in the Indian Baker’s Wish List. Not known to many in many other parts of the country, the legacy of the exclusive biscuits is carried forward only through its true connoisseurs. The original recipe still remains unchanged not only due to these connoisseurs but also due to those ignorant citizens who haven’t laid their hands in altering the taste.

I wouldn’t want my Thoothukudi Macaroons to have a twist of taste like the French Macarons, with added fillings and flavors. In this case, truly Ignorance is Bliss!